We held the first Western Group meeting of the year at the RAC control centre at Bradley Stoke on the edge of Bristol, courtesy of the RAC. 

PR Manager Simon Peevers explained that the site was opened some 20 years ago and handles insurance and administration duties among other things for the RAC. It’s also home to the RAC’s PR machine. 

Our meeting was held in the tower meeting room 30m above the rest of the building, giving a commanding view of the M4/M5 motorway junction.

Following Simon’s introduction, Chief Engineer David Bizley explained how the RAC’s roadside operations had changed over the past 15 years. Repair times have actually lengthened, but have become more successful, following the organisation’s “Repair not Recover” strategy. 

RAC data shows that overall roadside repair rates rose from 69.7 per cent in 2001 to 87.1 per cent in 2014. Less reliance on contractors has seen the roadside repair rate for RAC patrols rise from 81.4 per cent in 2001 to 89.6 per cent in 2014. 

The tower room is designed to move in strong winds and although visitors have been know to suffer motion sickness on windy days, the still conditions of our meeting meant we suffered no casualties. 

Following the meeting I would like to welcome Kieron Fennelly as a new Western Group member. Kieron lives just on the fringes of the Western Group area but was particularly keen to join us and we are pleased that he has. We look forward to seeing him at meetings and events soon.

PR Driving Day organiser Alyson Marlow reports that the website to handle bookings for the day is now up and running and anyone without a log-in can get it from Alyson at her usual email.

Invitations will go out any day, now that we have revised the invitations list. We hope to lay on a truck for participants to drive on the track during the day and arrangements are in hand as you read this.

Earlier in February we had the opportunity to experience the Tesla Model S as a group, when Tesla PR Laura Hardy brought four models along to the Tesla pop-up store at Cribbs Causeway, not a million miles from the RAC control centre. It gave us the chance to sample Tesla’s phenomenal electric super car on a return drive to Exeter where Tesla has opened a supercharger. 

If you doubt that electric cars are the future, get behind the wheel of a Model S.

It was good to see Steve Grant, John Powell’s replacement in Plymouth, who attended his first WGMW meeting, and in Exeter we were joined by Melanie Carter. 

The Western Group of Motoring Writers has started 2015 on a high note and is going from strength to strength with further new member applications received and our eagerly awaited PR Driving Day in the diary for 2 June. If you run a press fleet it might be a good idea to now blank off a few days around that date. We will be in touch very soon to ask you to nominate who will be attending and what you’ll be sending down for this unique event. 

John Kendall | Chairman WGMW

John Kendall
John Kendall
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